Hello! I'm (Patty) out in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend for a work project and it just happens that the Alabama Tornado Concert Benefit was in Birmingham this week! I wasn't able to go, because the only tickets left were $1000, and that was a little out of my price range, but lots of money was raised and lots of people will be helped!
Paula Dean was in Birmingham this week too! Busy and exciting place, which was only enhanced by some major storms.
I went outside to see one of them and I noticed that there were LOTS of kids out there too. LOTS. Did I say LOTS? One of the teenagers asked me if I was here because of the tornados too. I must have looked at him sideways because he said, oh you are from out of town, well welcome to Alabama, Ma'am. I ended up talking with him and the reason I had trouble booking hotels is that many of the victims of the tornados are living in hotels now. This particular teenager was in a one room hotel with his family. His Mom is a working Mom and the Dad is out of the picture so he's here with his siblings most of the time.
Talk about seeing the face of those affected by adversity. He's a 14 year old, big dude. He is a football player and most all of his possessions were lost. He's going to be in this hotel for 3 more months until they can rebuild his family's house. And you know what he was doing? He was telling me about all the things I should go see and do. On the top of the list, the "best breakfast buffet" in the lobby each day. "They have pancakes, bacon, all kinds of juice, and oh coffee if you drink it Ma'am." He told me about what life was like before the tornado and then after the tornado, and let me tell you, my life is a cakewalk compared to his every day. Shortly after we were talking, his sister (who is 7) came out and wanted to talk too. I was shocked at the realization that I am talking with a family who has lost everything, yet they have hope and they are focusing on the positives. She was very excited about the pool and how her big brother was taking her to the pool every day and to the "best breakfast buffet" every morning.
The Mom came out and she looked completely exhausted. She asked the brother if he could watch the sister while she slept so she could get to work in the morning and he obliged. I said hello and asked if I could pray for them. She said, sure. At the end of the prayer, I looked up and she was crying telling me how much she needed that and how proud she is of her son. And I find out that he gave up a football scholarship this summer so that he could take care of his siblings while his Mom worked. The relocation has affected their childcare options and her son was a lifesaver. I gave her a hug and I promised to pray for her daily.
This evening I intend to ask her for her name, phone and email address so that I can check in on her and encourage her, as she spoke of needing someone to talk to more often last night.
When I talked to this boy about his football plays and what he wants to do when he grows up, he was overjoyed that someone was listening to him and what he was interested in. He had such a beautiful smile, that just thinking about it makes me smile.
So our news last night that our Court Submission being completed in Ethiopia and not really knowing what that meant, and being a little frustrated, it seemed like I needed to draw upon this family. It's good news, a step I didn't know existed is taken care of, and I need enjoy the "best breakfast buffet" and appreciate the daily blessings while we wait. And when I get discouraged, I will think back to his smile and remember, even in the most difficult situations, having someone to talk to and is interested is often the cure.